In mid-December of 2013, a large number of Nuer were killed in an attack led by the presidential guard during a period of political turmoil following the ousting of the country's vice president. While many people from various South Sudanese tribes have been killed, Tutlam said the violence has specifically targeted the Nuer people.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, a memorial service will be held in Caudill Hall's Wemyss Auditorium. It will be an evening of prayer, reflection, and first-hand accounts of what happened last year in South Sudan. The service is sponsored by Collegiate Ministry and the Vol State International Student Association.
The purpose of the memorial service is twofold, according to Chudia Tutlam, a former Vol State student and native of South Sudan. First, the service will honor those who were killed during the violence. Second, Tutlam hopes the community will begin to become more aware of the conflict that is going on in his home country.
"We want to remember all the victims and all of the loved ones who were killed basically because they were Nuer. We want to send awareness out that those predators that are responsible for this cruel act have to be held accountable to killing innocent civilians," he said.
During the attacks, Tutlam lost a relative, as well as a couple of friends. He said the loss of human life is a terrible thing, especially when they are being targeted for who they are. That's one of the reasons he wanted to have a service to remember those who lost their lives in the violence.
"Losing someone that close to you is very, very difficult, and for you to know they were targeted because of who they are is terrible. It could happen to all the other tribes. If we speak about it and let those people in power know that this is wrong and that you can't kill people, the more people will know about it and the better it will be," he said.
There are a number of South Sudanese students at Vol State, as well as in the greater Nashville area, and Tutlam said he hopes local people will begin to learn about what is going on in his home country.
"All we want is peace. We want all 64 tribes to live peacefully. There's lots of tribes, and they're targeting the one now. Next time, it could happen to anyone," he said.
The service will be held from 3-6 p.m. For more information, call Tutlam at 615-668-9541.